Holiday giving can be difficult for some. Many of us already have all the “stuff” we need. This holiday season you can give a gift to loved ones and friends that does not involve producing, transporting, or disposing of more product. You might start with a local charity, such as a food bank, homeless shelter, or arts organization. You might also considera gift that reduces and stores carbon while helping people in need. In essence this is not only a gift to friends and loved ones, it is a gift to people in need and to future generations.

If you didn’t guess,we are talking about gifting carbon offsets! This gift replaces the carbon footprint that results from giving “stuff,” while actively contributing to reducing or capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Gifting carbon offsets will allow your recipients to offset their carbon footprints and has other important benefits.

Offsets serve as a good conversation starter if you want to interest others in the impact of consumer goods and travel on climate change. It offers an opportunity to discuss the climate crisis and actions they can take in their own lives to reduce their climate foodprints as we all start down the path to zero carbon.

There are many types of carbon offsets, so you can try to match the offset with interests and values of the recipient. Is your oldest child a renewable energy fanatic? There are offsets that focus on renewables. Does Aunt Tilly love nature? Find an offset that preserves mature biodiverse forests. Does Uncle John care about helping the people in poverty? Then find an offset that helps disadvantaged groups. For some on your list, carbon offsets could be the only gift, others may appreciate a more tangible gift as well. Carbon offsets might be especially appropriate for co-workers, fellow volunteers, and other folks who aren’t in your closest circle and may not be expecting a gift.


Selecting Carbon Credit Providers

The most straightforward carbon offsets are those that directly reduce the amount of fossil fuel used by funding wind farms, solar arrays, and other renewable energy projects. Other projects seek to absorb and store atmospheric carbon through forestry or agriculture. Some have benefits beyond climate and may improve health, social justice, or economic conditions for disadvantaged populations as well as reducing carbon. For example, NativeEnergy offsets help poor hunter and gatherer communities protect forests in Tanzania, while providing jobs and incomes. Some providers, such as Cool Effect, allow donors to direct their contributions to specific projects, giving purchasers direct control of their funds. Carbon credits purchased from 501(c)3 nonprofit providers are tax deductible.

Here is a small sample of certified offset providers to choose from:

Bonneville Environmental Foundation

Carbon Footprint

Climate Trust

My Climate

Native Energy


You can find many others on the internet. Wherever you find them, check them out carefully.


Vetting Offset Providers

Just like with any other holiday gift, you do not want to give an inferior product. It’s important to be sure you’re supporting a project that is real, measurable, permanent, independently verified, and would not have taken place without the finance provided by the sale of offset credits. Here are few things to look for:

  • Certification. The certifying organization is usually mentioned prominently on the provider’s website. Be sure to choose one that offers verified carbon offsets from a reputable certification program such as American Carbon Registry, Climate Action Reserve, Verra, Cool Effect, or Gold Standard.
  • Overhead percentage. Determine how much of funding goes to projects and how much is spent on administration, salaries, and advertising. This information can sometimes be found on the provider’s website, by contacting the certifying agency, or checking them out on Charity Navigator.
  • Compatibility. Review the offset projects to see how well it aligns with your and your recipient’s goals and values.
  • Shop around. Find a good match by visiting several providers online.


Gift from the Comfort and Safety of Your Home

After you select a reputable carbon offset provider that fits your values, you can send out all your holiday gifts from the comfort and safety of your home. Gifts that will not only benefit the recipient, but will also benefit you and your family – along with the planet.